Dyche hopeful on Pieters and Mee injuries as Villa and Albion defences shine again

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Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Aston Villa

  • Bonus Points: Emiliano Martinez (£5.2m) x3, Joel Veltman (£4.3m) x2, Lewis Dunk (£4.8m) x1

Aston Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez (£5.2m) starred as the listless visitors managed to hang on for an ill-deserved point from a mediocre display at Brighton.

The Seagulls were on top from first until last, forcing the Argentine into nine saves. By contrast, home stopper Robert Sanchez (4.5m) was called into action just the once – a regulation affair from a long-range Ross Barkley (£5.9m) effort.

Martinez was brought in by a net 72,218 new managers for the match, boosting his Fantasy Premier League (FPL) ownership to 35.4%. The next most popular keeper – Southampton’s Alex McCarthy (£4.5m) – is owned by 16.5%.

The Villa man is also the game’s most productive stopper, with 128 points, well ahead of Burnley’s Nick Pope (£5.6m), who has 110. If he continues racking up the points at his current rate, he’ll smash Brad Friedel’s record as the highest-scoring FPL goalkeeper in a single campaign.

And a glance at Martinez’s recent form provides plenty of reasons to believe that will happen.

Over the past four Gameweeks, he’s delivered 35 points, including two double-digit returns, courtesy of three clean sheets.

But it is the 22 saves he’s made that stand out – no other keeper has made more over the same time frame. 

It wasn’t all good news for Villa’s backline, however, as right-back Matty Cash (£5.0m) picked up an injury that makes him an early doubt for Gameweek 25’s visit by Leicester.

His manager, Dean Smith, provided an update post-match:

It looks like a hamstring injury. He was turning and got pushed as he turned. He just felt his hamstring. In this cold weather, that can happen.

Cash’s 1.6% ownership makes him the least popular of the team’s back four, although he did the decent thing Fantasy-wise by getting injured after the 60-minute mark.

But if he’s out for any length of time, Ahmed El Mohamady (£4.3m), who replaced him at the Amex Stadium, would be a cut-price way into a defence that’s kept 12 clean sheets – only Manchester City (14) have managed more.

What chip strategy are FFS users planning for Blank Gameweek 18?

Brighton are another team producing good defensive returns.

The draw made it a club-record six matches unbeaten in the Premier League, and five of those have come with clean sheets.

That hasn’t exactly led to a run on Seagulls defenders. Lewis Dunk (£4.8m) remains the side’s most popular FPL asset, with just 4.0% ownership.

The centre-half earned an extra point against Villa, making it three straight matches with a bonus award, and four occasions over the last six games.

Crystal Palace and Newcastle at home, and trips to West Brom and Southampton, over the next five Gameweeks might prompt further investment in Dunk and Sanchez, but it’s unlikely to be anything other than modest.

Brighton XI (4-2-3-1): Sánchez; Burn, Dunk, White, Veltman; Alzate (Lallana 62), Bissouma; Groß,  Mac Allister, Trossard; Maupay (Welbeck 80).

Aston Villa XI (4-2-3-1): Martínez; Targett, Mings, Konsa, Cash (El Mohamady 61); McGinn, D Luiz; Barkley (Sanson 76), Grealish, Traoré (Trézéguet 66); Watkins.

Crystal Palace 0-3 Burnley

  • Goals:  Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.4m), Jay Rodriguez (£5.8m), Matt Lowton (£4.5m)
  • Assists: Dwight McNeil (£5.7m), Rodriguez
  • Bonus Points: Lowton x3 Rodriguez x2 Gudmundsson x1 Nick Pope (£5.5m) x1

Burnley scored more than twice in a league match for only the second time this season as Sean Dyche’s men started Double Gameweek 24 in style.

Two goals came in the first ten minutes, but it was events (or the lack of them) at the other end of the pitch that led to the most Fantasy joy.

The entire Burnley backline had experienced an ownership boost in preparation for a double header with Palace and Fulham, with Ben Mee’s (£5.1m) 342,743 new managers leading the way and keeper Nick Pope (£5.6m) not far behind with a 248,307 net increase.

The biggest winners on the day, however, were the 109,000+ who invested in Matt Lowton (£4.5m), the right-back scoring his first league goal in nearly eight years on the way to the maximum bonus award and a season’s-best 15-point return.

All that defensive goodness did come at a price, with injury issues for both Mee and Erik Pieters (£4.3m).

The prospects for Mee, in particular, did not look good as he collapsed and had to be stretchered off following a collision with Jordan Ayew (£5.6m)

But Dyche played down both problems post-match:

Yeah, he’s (Mee) okay. Medical team have to do their job, but he’s fine in the dressing room. Just a straight sub, not concussion. Tight groin (for Pieters). Strange one, he gave a thumbs-up, then 30 seconds later he went down. Hopefully, it’s just a tightness and not a strain or anything like that.

Dyche’s claim that Mee’s injury did not involve concussion seems unlikely. The centre-half appeared to have been knocked unconscious in the incident with Ayew and his 7.1% ownership should not be surprised if their man is absent when Fulham visit on Wednesday.

Investment in any Burnley attackers has brought scant reward this campaign – only Sheffield United (15) have scored fewer goals than the Clarets’ 17.

But Johann Berg Gudmundsson‘s (£5.4m) opener at Selhurst Park made it two in two matches for the midfielder, who is starting to show some good form after a long run of injuries.

Good form and Palace are less easily paired up. The Eagles have lost four of their last six matches by an aggregate score of 2-12 and need to adapt to life without their injured talisman Wilfried Zaha (£7.1m).

In his absence, Roy Hodgson’s side have lost 18 of the last 20 games, failing to score in 16 of those.

Their short-term fixtures (bha FUL tot WBA) are okay, but their form is anything but.

Crystal Palace XI (4-4-2): Guaita; van Aanholt, Dann, Kouyaté, Clyne; Eze, Riedewald, Milivojevic, Ayew; Benteke (Mateta 76), Batshuayi (Townsend 62).

Burnley XI (4-4-2): Pope; Pieters (Bardsley 87), Mee (Long 84), Tarkowski, Lowton; McNeil, Cork, Westwood, Gudmundsson (Brady 72); Rodriguez, Barnes.

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